What should a great author website look like?

What makes great authors?

It is the readers. The best authors are great at building a following. Your website must facilitate building your readership.

If you want to do it right, your author website should be more than a high tech business card. It’s the nerve center of your marketing efforts, connecting you directly to your readers. Your site should be optimized with this in mind if you want more than just a static website that disappears into the ether. This formerly difficult undertaking is easier than ever if you have a great website.

Writers in general don’t want to sit worrying about maintaining websites. Writers want to write. You might be tempted to get something up quickly and cheaply, but that first impression you leave on a potential reader will stick with them forever. Your author web site represents you and your books. Make sure it reinforces the appropriate image of you and your work. Keep your author brand in mind as you set up your website, and ensure you use the right tone and voice for your image.

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About pages are visited more often than most pages on the web. Readers come to this page to learn more about you. Include a professional headshot, and organize your Bio into sections. Use a catchy headline, like you would for an article. Tell visitors what they can expect from the website, and put in some testimonials and reader quotes. It doesn’t matter if you use a flattering tweet, a Goodreads review, an Amazon review, or a comment from Wattpad. You can put these on the sidebar or under the form to sign up for your email subscription.

Talk about what got you into writing, the kind of books you love to write, and why you write. This is the place to let your personality shine. Throughout your site mention your writing credentials and awards. In several areas of your author website link to your books and social media account, and ask them to join your mailing list. Your e-mail subscribers can be your biggest fans, and you don’t want to neglect them. An e-mail update every month or so is enough, and once when you release a new book.

Put your contact information front and center on its own page. Ask visitors to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, and keep those accounts updated with interesting content. Set up another page for your books, and include a cover picture, a blurb, and details on how to buy it.

Putting a blog on your author website not only creates more pages for search engines to index, but keeps your readers updated on your projects. If they’ve heard you blogging about your next book for months, they’ll be interested in buying it when it comes out. The comments section on your posts is also another way to connect with readers.

Reserve a section of your website for updates on events where you’ll be speaking or conventions you’ll be attending. Including a press kit is useful for anyone in the media who wants to profile you. Extras, like contests and giveaways, keep your author website fresh and will encourage repeat visits. Mention some of the things you might have researched when writing your latest book, or talk about what inspired it. Keep your readers engaged, and they’ll be sure to visit your author website any time they want an update.

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photo credit: Christine O’Donnell with supporter